This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine.
Utah, the home of pioneers and innovation, is fast becoming the place for diverse professionals to explore new frontiers in technology. Ready to tap into the state’s gold mine of trailblazers is AvidXchange, who recently expanded westward from its home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The fast-growing AP automation SaaS company creates solutions that solve B2B challenges and maintains its startup culture by putting its people first – celebrating diversity, exploring differences, and encouraging education and action.
Angela Sudbury is the Director of Software Development and Site Leader for AvidXchange in Sandy, Utah. Since joining the team, she has helped steer the company’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion at AvidXchange as well as across the state of Utah. Angela recently shared some thoughts on being a professional woman in the technology space and how that has shaped her into the leader she is today.
*How are women leaders wired differently in professional settings? *
Angela Sudbury: While there is still some work to be done to promote women in technology and leadership positions, I have always felt a person’s work should speak for itself. Regardless of my gender or sector, I recognized early on that it was up to me to choose the direction of my career. Being aware of the subtle nuances of how women typically approach professional opportunities, as well as understanding our natural strengths, has been helpful in taking steps to be more intentional about my career choices.
Women are sometimes reluctant to advocate for themselves. One example I have noticed is when applicants review the requirements for a new job. Women tend to hesitate to apply for a job if they don’t have experience with nearly every qualification on the list. Meanwhile, men are much more comfortable throwing their name into the hat with the mindset that they will figure out what is needed once they’re in the position. I don’t mean this disparagingly in either case, but I think women miss out on professional opportunities due to these tendencies. Being aware and changing our mindset can help build professional confidence that can lead to new opportunities.
Women are positioned to play to our natural strengths when making career choices. I believe women are inherently outward-focused, meaning it is in our make-up to pay attention to those around us. As such, women are wired to invest in and develop teams. It’s no surprise that the favorite part of my job is helping team members find the right role and then giving them the resources they need to be successful.
One of our goals as a company is to fill in the diversity gaps that the technology industry faces. We recognize a more diverse workforce brings different perspectives and types of skills to our teams. AvidXchange’s Talent team is equipping our leaders with up-to-date skills and tools to assess, digest, discuss, and promote diversity.
How can companies become more aware and learn how to celebrate diversity naturally?
Angela Sudbury: As a leader, I encourage women and team members with diverse backgrounds to share their viewpoint, even when unintentionally exclusive situations arise. I was on a team where all the leaders, except myself, were men. I was continually getting meeting invitations for 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., or 8 a.m. My colleagues at the time all had stay-at-home spouses and were able to accommodate the early meetings easily. During that time, I am busy getting my three children off to school and making my way to the office. This situation gave me an opportunity to raise awareness across the team that people have different responsibilities and that we needed to be mindful of all team members when scheduling meetings.
Diversity can present itself in a million different ways. Women bring different perspectives to the workplace, as do people from different backgrounds and cultures. The best leaders are those who surround themselves with people who think differently than they do and encourage others to share their unique outlooks.
This year, our organization delivered a three-year Diversity and Inclusion strategy which puts our teammates first as people, then as employees. We’re focusing on building awareness and giving leaders the tools to adequately assess the current state of AvidXchange’s understanding of diversity in our industry. Leaders are more cognizant of behaviors, knowledge, and opportunities to discuss differences and can strive for change within our offices. It’s more than having access to the right tools. It’s what we do to make a difference that matters most to our team at work and home.
What does work-life balance mean to you?
Angela Sudbury: It’s critical to build a healthy and sustainable work-life balance. Thankfully, AvidXchange is a FinTech company that gives me the time and space to be a present mother, wife, and leader. My day is busy from morning to night, including trying to squeeze in “me time” at the gym, family duties, and working with my teammates to develop innovative solutions.
The key to balancing the many tasks of a working mother is to focus my time on the things that matter most to me. How we use our time defines us both at home and in the office. I learned early on that I can’t manage every detail of what happens at home or work. At home, I spend time teaching my kids how to be self-sufficient, rely heavily on my husband, and hire help where needed. At work, I find it equally important to invest in and develop teams who can also share the load. By strengthening and empowering those around me, I never feel like keeping things moving in the right direction is entirely up to me.
I love working for a company that supports me and the many hats I wear daily. Women leadership conferences and fireside chats are just the beginning. The best part is knowing that I’m a leader for a company that celebrates my journey, not only as a leader in technology but as a woman, mother, and wife. At the end of the workday, I’m back home to be everything my family needs me to be.